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Why Eminem’s Obsession with Violence Against Women is Not Just Satire

It is no secret that mainstream Hip-Hop can often be hateful and oppressive towards women. According to a study  published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 22 percent of “gangster rap” portrays violent misogyny. Apparently, when Dr. Dre was looking for a rapper to mentor, he wanted someone who could be just as violently misogynistic than himself. Alas, Eminem was discovered.

This same study showed that while the gangster rap genre yields a 22 percent average of violence against women, Eminem’s lyrics disturbingly mention violence against women 78 percent of the time. Instances of violence against women appear on 11 of the 14 tracks on Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP.

From lyrics such as “I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice like Ray Rice” to “put that shit away Iggy, you don’t wanna blow that rape whistle on me.” One of Eminem’s most recent contributions to the wonderful world of music has been a verse on Dr. Dre’s Medicine Man, including the ever so charming line, “I even make the bitches I rape come.” Fans and even Eminem himself have argued that all his violence, homophobia, and misogyny all boils down to a mere portrayal of his alter ego, Slim Shady.

Not only is this portrayal of his persona still over-the-top regardless of whether it’s a satirical character or not, these songs are still being written and performed by real-life people with real-life detrimental attitudes towards women. Violence against women is still a prominent issue in our society, we don’t need it represented so strongly in music, unless it stands to provide an anti-abuse stance. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and 24 people every minute are stalked, abused, or raped by their partners. When we support artists that maintain and promote this culture of violence against women, we are contributing to violence against women. Many claim that since it’s “just a joke” or “just fiction,” that this does not contribute to violence. But where are the statistics for that argument? Jokes make light of the situation, they enable the idea that abuse victims are complaining about nothing. It will also often lead to fans taking the lyrics to heart, not understanding that they are satire. Ironically, in Eminem’s track Stan, we see a fan take his lyrics to the extreme; an extreme Eminem claims he does not condone. This song in itself proves that people will always take music literally. Isn’t a little suspicious that Eminem would write this song…not to actually learn from it himself? Who is he actually blaming with the song? Not himself from the look of his lack of development.

A shot of the romanticized domestic violence in Eminem's song with vocals from Rihanna, a domestic violence victim herself.
A shot of the romanticized domestic violence in Eminem’s song with vocals from Rihanna, a domestic violence victim herself.

Whenever an Eminem song is played on the radio or at a party, it is likely that someone listening to that song is reliving a horrible experience. A horrible experience perpetuated by the very artist of the song himself. Eminem’s morbid fascination with beating, raping, and killing women is not true satire, and it sure as hell is not deep and meaningful. It is not just music, it is not just art. Art is inherently political, and when an artist shows a fascination with such a dark subject; one has to question what this really means.

This is so much more than a group of “fragile, and delicate people being offended at hardcore, gangster rap.” This is about a musician who chooses to present himself as extremely violent and misogynistic, a rapper who has made a name for himself because of how outrageously brutal his songs are, whose popularity rests on the fact that he is constantly rapping about beating up and/or raping fellow female musicians and women in general. When a majority of a musician’s music depicts violence against women, it stops being some sort of creative outlet and it becomes just straight up misogyny.

When to this day there are still way too many men beating, raping, or killing their partners, it begs the question: where are they getting this inspiration? The depressing fact is, it isn’t just Eminem, it’s not just music. It’s also film, TV, the way boys are brought up in school, it’s even in visual art and literature. It’s everywhere, and musicians like Eminem are just adding to the pool of misogyny that has been overflowing for centuries now…

 

[Image via x]

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Written by Becki Fernandez

Becki Fernandez is a college sophomore, part-time rockstar and full-time feminist. She is in an all girls feminist rock band, Swine, that will surely save the world and rock n roll. She is majoring in Communication Studies at UNCW, with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. In her free time, you can find her at Taco Bell or crying at sloth videos on her laptop. Becki is fiercely proud of her Cuban heritage and is not afraid to steal the aux cord at parties and play some salsa. Her life goals include dying her hair pink and punching Donald Trump right in his bigoted face.

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